MasterImage Eyeing Glasses-Free 3D Deals With Airlines, Auto Makers (Exclusive)

The 3D technology company is nearing agreements that would put glasses-free 3D screens in aircrafts and cars, THR has learned.

3D technology company MasterImage 3D is close to securing deals with certain airlines and auto makers that aim to put glasses-free 3D screens in aircrafts and in cars, MasterImage told The Hollywood Reporter.

“We have a great deal of interest,” said Roy Taylor, executive vp and GM of 3D display at MasterImage -- whose patented technology allows viewers to watch 3D without glasses on portable devices.

Taylor declined to name the airlines and auto manufacturers with whom MasterImage is talking, but he explained that an airline could license the MasterImage technology in order to equip new aircrafts, as well as upgrade airplanes in their existing fleet, with the ability to show 3D entertainment on board without the need for glasses.

He added that there is also interest from luxury car markers, who have an eye toward putting glasses-free 3D screens in the back seats of vehicles. “Most models of cars will also have Wifi -- that means that car owners will have the ability to download 3D movies and (passengers could) watch them on a trip.”

For distributors, these might be welcome new potential avenues for revenue from 3D movies.

“We weren’t looking at (airlines and car makers) initially,” Taylor admitted. “We were focusing on smartphones and tablets, but there turned out to be strong interest.”

MasterImage licenses its glasses-free ‘cell-matrix parallax barrier’ 3D technology to third parties. The technology already enabled one of the world’s first glasses-free 3D mobile phones -- the Hitashi Wooo -- and MasterImage is talking with potential consumer electronics partners about offering additional smartphones and tablets equipped with its 3D display technology. MasterImage hopes to see such devices on the market later this year.

Taylor noted that aircraft design cycles are not as quick as smartphones and tablets, and he estimated that it might be 2 1/2 to 3 years before 3D could become a part of air travel.

MasterImage, perhaps best known as a 3D digital cinema systems provider, recently received a $15 million investment from Samsung Ventures.